To have a decision that will be implemented as desired, we need a complete decision. A complete decision is one that answers the five questions that it is imperative to ask.  


The imperatives are: why, what, how, who, and by when.  


Leaving one or more imperatives out confuses delegation and the predicting of implementation.  Take leaving out the by when imperative. Type (E) leadership style wants it be done yesterday; Usually upset that it has not been done yet, whatever is his or her pet project of the moment. The ( P ) type wants it now. The (A) type, preoccupied with details, believes it will take at least a year to get it done.(1)  


Since the by when imperative has not been finalized, each style has his or her own expectation of when the task should be accomplished which can be a source of friction and conflict.   


You can imagine your own problems that will occur if any of the other imperatives is not agreed on by the team responsible to implement the decision.  


Ok, makes sense that all imperatives need to be addressed and finalized. But in making a complete decision, we need to address the decision-making imperatives in a certain sequence.  


First, we must define what are we dealing with, what it is that we are trying to resolve. Without a clear definition of what is the focus of the discussion, we cannot discuss why to have the discussion or not. “Why what?” is a familiar question. Think about the question again: “Why what?” The focus is to determine first what we are talking about, followed by why we are discussing the issue. In light of the answers we get by asking why, we may have to go back and redefine the what imperative. Now that we agree on the why, the initial what might need to be changed.  


Now that we know what we are going to do and why we are going to do it, we must decide what the next imperative might be. The sequence differs from case to case.  


We have to decide which of the imperatives is the most important to address next, which thereafter etc. For example, if there is a crisis that must be dealt with as soon as possible, the next imperative to be dealt with is the by when imperative. Or, if there is a shortage of managerial power to deal with the issue, the next imperative is the who. To answer the who, we need to decide who should take on the task, to make or implement the decision. Now in light of who was chosen to be responsible for implementation, we need to review and change, if necessary, the what, and how. and the by when because the chosen person has availability constraints and may be even competence constraints and most probably his or her personality will impact how it will be done and by when which, de facto, will impact what exactly was done. It might even alter the why it is being done at all. And if, in another example, the resources available are limited or the decision must be implemented in a specific sequence, the how should be the next imperative.  


The sequence changes with each situation. The sequence must be decided before we proceed to discuss each of the imperatives in that sequence.   


The decision is complete when we can answer the questions: what the decision is we need to make, why do we need to make it, who will be responsible to do it, by when must it be done, and how.  


Just thinking, 


Ichak Kalderon Adizes          


  1. For Managerial Styles see Ichak Kalderon Adizes: Management Mismanagement Styles

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